Thursday, May 20, 2010

Headed back

“Hey, whatcha doing?
“Just looking at all this school info, comparing everything again, thinking about next fall.”

“Oh TJ, we need to go back. It'll be great for our family and our kids to be back at school again."

It took about two seconds for Corbin's words to seal my decision. That was several months ago. We were already leaning towards heading back to school, but after our great year homeschooling, it was a difficult choice.

So we’re headed back. And while I find myself considering the loss of homeschooling benefits, I'm excited. I turned in our forms for my fifth, third and FIRST grade kiddos to return to our neighborhood school and bought next year's school supplies online. It’s a relief to have a plan, and I’m thrilled to have a vision.

How did we decide?

Let me first say, even this decision is a step of faith. As in many life choices, the answer is not written on the wall, and there are still pros and cons to every angle. But evaluating our family and the past couple of years, going back to our neighborhood school makes the most sense:
- It’s a great school with amazing families.
- Right down the street, which makes building relationships in our community a natural process. We've lived in this neighborhood for fourteen years, so we've already spent a decade and a half building these friendships.
- While the boys have learned plenty this year, and I think they've thrived in their core education, our school offers so many courses and opportunities with teachers who love what they do.

What do the kids think?
Basden is excited. She’s anxious to meet new friends and see what 1st grade at school is all about. I’m completely comfortable with her going - except that now I’m at that grieving stage of sending my child off to school. But it's easier to send a first grader than a kindergartener. For years she's traipsed all through the school's halls and lunchroom and library with me, and she’s ready. She's asking almost daily when she'll be a first grader, and that she wants to walk up the school steps with her brothers.
Bran and Hud both say they want to go back, but I think they would be happy either way. At this point they miss their friends and teachers. And field day. But kids are resilient, I know they'd be content either way. Especially when they have to wake up early every morning next fall!

What will I miss?
Simple - relaxed time with my children during the day. Our super flexible schedule. Taking vacations every month (!). All of our kids spending so much time together.

I feel some trepidation about getting back on the “treadmill” of early mornings and homework and inflexible school schedules. But again, having great teachers and families that our children get to be a part of makes it worth the schedule at this point. I think anyone who knows me knows that Corbin and I keep all of this in an open hand - one year at a time. And it’s liberating to have the fear of the unknown removed in regards to other school options. If for some reason this school situation doesn’t work for our family, I’m not afraid anymore to make a change. There are SO MANY options for learning, so I don't feel put into a corner with this choice.

I’m also optimistic that my kids are a little different kids, and I’m a little different mom. We've all thrived this year, all grown up a bit. We're going back different people, and I'm excited to see how that unfolds.

A favorite quote from a favorite book, "Going Public" by David and Kelli Pritchard:
We consider ourselves to be our children's number one educators, and we will never give up that responsibility or privilege - even though they spend 30 hours a week in somebody else's classroom. We instruct our kids every day. We look for the teachable moments that intersect with what they are experiencing outside our home. We draw frames around their encounters and activities, showing how they fit within God's greater perspective.

Thanks to many of you for your support on this journey, it made all the difference to feel genuine encouragement from friends who send their kids to school and friends who teach their kids at home. It's been tremendous to walk in faith, because it scared the poo out of me last summer to take my kiddos out of school and change our patterns so drastically. I'm continuing to learn that our path is unique to our family, and that I'm responsible solely to God for my choices and not to others. We'll see where he leads. So, so thankful for our trail thus far.